Grand jury to be impaneled Monday to get trial process moving again

Grand jury necessary to bring first-degree murder charges

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – To prevent the spread of COVID-19, orders were issued in March that suspended jury trials and other proceedings at courthouses across Florida.

But that left county jails, including Duval County’s, to house those facing serious charges until their trials could move forward.

That process is beginning Monday when several hundred prospective jurors will come to the Duval County Courthouse to be considered for selection on the 4th Judicial Circuit’s grand jury.

RELATED: Court eyes COVID-19 delays in criminal cases

District 4 Chief Judge Mark Mahon explained that first-degree murder charges must be brought through the grand jury process, so those cases can’t move forward without an impaneled grand jury.

“This is a necessary step in the criminal justice system. Frankly, the delay, there are a number of people in jail on charges, and we need to go ahead and get those matters resolved,” Mahon said.

Mahon said the court is taking precautions for COVID-19, including using a room that would typically hold more than 500 people to hold just 60 so that they can be socially distanced.

“Their seats will be assigned for the duration of the jury selection. There won’t be any transfer of any individual to another,” Mahon said. “The entire selection will occur in that room.”

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